From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Cost Benefits and ROIs from Ergonomics

Sometimes a series of seemingly random events turn out to have a common thread that ties them together in your mind. Today, for me, a common thread has emerged in the form of the many fine folks in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA (think Seattle area) that cooperate as members of PSHFES (Puget Sound Human Factors and Ergonomics Society), and more specifically, member Rick Goggins work on cost benefit analysis for ergonomics.

The first event that ultimately led me to PSHFES was a discussion that recently occurred with other professionals in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES). After some unproductive political banter surfaced in the discussion, a member came forth with a strong call that we ergonomists should gather together our successes so that we can develop a clear story about the value we bring to our customers. I thought to myself, "hmmm, I know Ergoweb has quite a number of case studies, research summaries, forum discussions and other content that demonstrates significant ROI (return on investment) through ergonomics, and I know others, including Rick’s work that I vaguely recall, have similar materials, but hey, who has the time to pull it all together into a compelling, effective format?"

Then, a couple of weeks later, with that thought still floating around in my head, contributor Gene Kay submitted an excellent case study article summarizing an internal cost-benefit analysis of the effect of adjustable workstations on company costs in a large financial services company (available to our The Ergonomics Report™ subscribers: Evidence: Investing in Adjustable Workstations Produces Healthy ROI). It turns out, just as we practicing ergonomists well know, when properly introduced and managed, ergonomics improvements can create dramatic ROIs. As Gene and I discussed the importance of the ergonomics-ROI topic, he mentioned that he would provide a link to Rick Goggin’s work at the PSHFES as an additional resource. "Great," I said, making a mental note that I should spend some time reviewing the PSHFES materials "when I get some time…"

The final smack against my thick skull came yesterday when I received a press release from — you guessed it — PSHFES, asking if we could inform the Ergoweb Community about their upcoming symposium. Alright already! I’ll visit the PSHFES website!

The morals of this story include:

  1. "Good Ergonomics is Good Economics" (in the immortal words of the late Hal Hendrick);
  2. PSHFES is a great example of professionals in a local region coming together to create new value as a whole; and
  3. I do indeed have a thick skull, and I sometimes need repeated poking and prodding before I get a message or act on a thought.

Oh, and here’s a link to the Ergonomics Cost Benefit Analysis tools, including a cost-benefit calculator based on data from 250 case studies, that Rick Goggins, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, and PSHFES have graciously shared. Thanks, and keep up the good work!